Tales of Touring Terror!

Photo by Jeanne RiceLEE ROCKER, Upright-Bass Godhead

A couple of years ago, I was booked to play 10 shows in Spain. I go to get on the flight in the London airport, and the airline sees this huge thing [his bass, for which Rocker bought a separate ticket], and they set security on me. They freak out—it has batteries, wires and pickups—and all kinds of people surround me. So they take the bass away from me and won't let it on the plane. They say they're gonna put it in the hold and personally take care of it and all that. So I get to Spain the day of the first show, I'm waiting for the luggage to come out, and here comes my bass crashing down the luggage rack. I open the case, and the neck is snapped off the body—it's all in pieces. I'm completely fucked at this point. I'm arguing with the airline, and they tell me don't worry, they're gonna get me a bass for the shows. So I get to the gig a couple of hours later, and the guy has rented me this half-size bass—virtually a cello. It's this little tiny thing that comes up to just a bit above my waist. The audience was pretty astonished. It was really cold over there, so I announced that my bass is usually larger, but that since it's so fucking cold out, it must have shrunk.

MATT WIGNALL, Lead Cowboy Hat, Havalina Rail Co.

We were in Limon, Colorado, once when our van's engine died. We were stranded there for three days, and each day, the wind would blow cow stench through the town. It was horrific. We then traded the van and some money to this guy for his old van, which had weeds growing into it. We piled all of our crap inside and took off, but it broke down before we even got out of town. We stayed there for another day while a mechanic worked on it. Back on the road a week later, we blew a tire. A week after that, we broke the U-joint. We had managed to make it to Illinois, and were looking for a place to go fly-fishing, when someone told us about a good river behind this old graveyard. We drove into the graveyard, and while we were looking at the river, I ran into a big old gravestone, ripping the metal off the side of the van and wedging it into the tire. But even worse, the van yanked the gravestone out of the ground. We drove off really fast.

RON MARTINEZ, Underground Punk Legend, Final Conflict and Serial Killing 101

Last summer, we played Philadelphia, and all the kids there told us they were boycotting our upcoming Baltimore show because of the schizo club owner there. So we get to Baltimore and meet the owner, who's a strung-out Deadhead junkie—he looked like a dirtier version of Beavis and Butt-head's hippie teacher. We told him that Distraught, one of the bands we were touring with, couldn't play the show because their van broke down. He just gave us this weird look and started going off about how the FBI was behind it. We told him what the kids in Philly had to say about him, and he said the FBI was behind that, too, that they were all working for the feds. And while we were playing, we saw him walking through the club, randomly pointing people out, telling them they had to leave for absolutely no reason. Then he started putting his hands on the females, and we had to intervene—we almost beat him up. After the show, he was trying to be nice to us—"I'm not really a bad guy; do you like me?" He was just a totally annoying, whacked-out conspiracy nut.

MIKE DZIURGOT, Guitar Boy, Jeffries Fan Club

We played a festival in France earlier this year, and the act that went on right before us was this theatrical troupe of half-naked, tattooed-up girl body piercers piercing one another. So we start playing, and a piercer from the troupe jumps onstage and starts dancing around during our set. The security people would pull her off, but she'd just keep jumping back up again. The biggest problem with her, though, wasn't her dancing—she smelled. She had really horrible body odor, and we didn't want her anywhere near us. We found that the stereotype about Europeans stinking turned out to be true, at least in her case. Another was the meat in England, which was absolutely horrible. We had no time to get any food before playing this show there, so we ordered a pepperoni pizza, and our whole band got sick. We were almost incapable of playing, and it had to be because of the pepperoni. I lived mostly on bread and water the rest of the time. And we got held up at gunpoint in Amsterdam. That was interesting. One of the guys had his Game Boy stolen.

BIG SANDY, Roots-Rocker Extraordinaire

We were staying in Nashville at a Quality Inn. I was the first one out of the room in the morning, and I see this man kind of walking around our bus, checking it out. I go to get in, and he stops me and asks me questions about the bus. We got a lot of comments on that bus, a 1949 Flexible; it was more popular than we were, but it finally died on us. Anyway, he's checking it out. He says, "Hey, man, where'd you get this thing?" He was a truck driver, and he started telling me about all the old trucks and vans he'd driven. So we talk, I get on the bus, and we're on our way. About a month and a half later, we're in Utah, and we pull into a diner at about four in the morning. There's that same guy, sitting at the counter. I got this really weird feeling—creepy. I mean, fuck, what are the chances of running into that same guy again? Is he following us or something? How do you end up being in different parts of the country at the exact same time? So I sit down and talk to him, and there wasn't any real reason for it. But it turned out that his name was Robert Williams, which is my name, too. It was the weirdest feeling. What are the odds of that?

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